Canoe

You cannot know a lake, yourself, or God

Until, being out on the water, your eyes are trained to see what was always overlooked:

A gentle, persistent breeze is pricked

From your vantage, sequential lines form and move in parallel towards your canoe

Coming closer and closer, then passing

Just after dawn the lines will display a remarkable contrast of light and dark.

In the present moment both orange spacious sky and black depths appear

It is paradox at its finest

There is no grey

There is no in between

Only a sincere respect, fear, love for absolute mystery

When you begin to see these lines

You will begin to see the lake, yourself, and God.

To Be Born

“…. And Day after day I think each of us discovered that to which Jesus Christ beckons us. It’s to be born. Our identities as men go from one birth to another. And from birth to birth we’ll each end up bringing into the world the child of God that we are. The incarnation for us is to allow the filial reality of Jesus to embody itself in our humanity. The mystery of the incarnation remains: what are we going to live? In this way, what we’ve already lived takes root as well as what we’re going to live in the future.”

Christian, the Trappist monk depicted in the 2010 French drama Of Gods and Men.

Be A Mentor

It’s not too often that I find myself really wanting to become a good person. Not necessarily “good” as in one who follows all the rules, but good as in whole, authentic, loving, and true. As a parent of two very young kids, its not often that I even have energy for such a notion. I’m usually much more concerned about getting enough sleep, catching the latest episode of Louie, and slurping down as much coffee as my body can possibly handle in any given situation. Either way, a couple weeks ago I felt this strong hope that I was for real. This all went down at a coffee shop with my new friend, Jacob.

See, I’m a mentor. A mentor to a mentor, actually.

As a volunteer for the Next Generation Department at my home church, Open Door, I work with this freshman college student who in turn mentors a couple junior high kids.

As we sipped our coffee (Jacob sipped, I slurped). I felt some of that good kind of pressure. I know that Jacob is a solid guy. I actually want what’s best for him, for the kids he mentors, and I just really don’t want to mess this up. I want to be my true self, and if in any way I can be of help along his journey in life, I want to be ready.

I drove home from our first one-on-one meeting asking myself what I needed to do to be “ready” and I was struck at how much I really cared about this simple relationship and how much it was affecting me.

Mentoring is powerful. Not just for those junior high kids who are the focal point of the program, but for Jacob, and for me. Surprisingly, it has become a sort of spiritual discipline in my life. A place that I go to give, to be grounded, and challenged. As I think about the things that are actually helping me inch towards the loving character of Christ, mentoring is near the top. It’s one of those things that actually works, like good ol’ hot cup of coffee.

Spiritual Growth

“So here is the paradox: as humans we are caught between two competing drives, the drive to belong, to fit in, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and the drive to let our deepest selves rise up, to walk alone, to refuse the accepted and the comfortable, and this can mean, at least for a time, the acceptance of anguish. It is in the group that we discover what we have in common. It is as individuals that we discover a personal relationship with God. We must find a way to balance our two opposing impulses.”

Jean Vanier, Becoming Human (Paulist Press: New York) 18.

Westy

One fine day,

I will grab that man and pull him down from his

1979 Volkswagon Westfalia with the pop up camper top

I will drag him to the ground,

Hold my boot to his throat

And demand the truth:

Does it really take you anywhere you want to go?

Is it an adventure?

Aren’t you lonely?

Do you have a telephone? A television?

I just have to know.

“War” (Guest Post)

Guest poem today from my friend Cole. He’s twelve years old. TWELVE. 

Wherever you go there’s flying debris,
people lay injured, no one seems to see.
A target’s a target they’re told not a human being.
Bullets fall from the sky like black rain on their enemies
who run from the pain.
War is war is what everyone’s told
but such talk does not fool me.

You can follow Cole here.

10 Long Years, Time to End the War